News 2023: The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Accelerating Cybersecurity Education, Scholarship and Service
The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service: Accelerating Cybersecurity Education, Scholarship and Service

UMass Dartmouth received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to advance the study of cybersecurity and prepare students for future careers in the field.

UMass Dartmouth faculty receive CyberCorps grant at NSF ceremony
UMass Dartmouth faculty members Liudong Xing, PhD, and Gokhan Kul, PhD receive CyberCorps Scholarship for Service certification from government officials Dr. James L. Moore III , Assistant Director​ for STEM Education, ​National Science Foundation (NSF), Mr. Nitin Natarajan, Deputy Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)​, Mr. Rob Shriver​, Deputy Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)​, and Dr. Suzanne Nielsen, Deputy Assistant National Cyber Director for Workforce, Education, and Training , Office of the National Cyber Director, Executive Office of the President

A multimillion-dollar grant will provide scholarship funding and professional development programming for cybersecurity students

UMass Dartmouth received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a new CyberCorps® Scholarship for Service program that will provide up to three years of support for students pursuing cybersecurity education. The program aims to address the national demand for a diverse cybersecurity workforce and prepare master’s-level professionals for government cybersecurity positions.

Following graduation, scholarship recipients are required to work in cybersecurity for a federal, state, local, or tribal government organization for the same duration as their scholarship support.  

UMass Dartmouth is designated as a National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The project leverages this designation, accelerated B.S./M.S. programs and graduate-level courses in cybersecurity, established partnerships with government agencies, and federally sponsored research efforts to advance scholarship in cybersecurity.

This is the largest financial award UMass Dartmouth has received from the NSF to date. 

Preparing for in-demand careers

The CyberCorps Scholarship for Service program allows UMass Dartmouth faculty to nurture students’ development not only as learners but as future colleagues in the field. In addition to providing eligible students with scholarship money and stipends, the program will allow students to participate in professional development opportunities including earning industry certifications, presenting at conferences, and attending seminars presented by the field’s leading experts.

Breaking down barriers

This project will help to advance the study of cybersecurity and bolster UMass Dartmouth’s commitment to recruiting and supporting students historically underrepresented in the field of cybersecurity.

Scholarship funding will remove financial barriers for students who are academically deserving but financially disadvantaged.

Making an impact

New college graduates don’t always gravitate toward careers in public service.  A 2022 study by Qualtrics found that just 44% of recent college graduates said they would consider federal employment. That number is even lower (40%) among minority graduates.  

“Students might ask, ‘why government?’” said Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Director of the UMassD Cybersecurity Center, Lance Fiondella.  “Careers in the public sector often provide the opportunity to make a bigger difference.”

Fiondella also emphasized the urgent need for this program and others like it. “The study of cybersecurity is complex; it intersects with the fields of psychology, human behavioral science, political science, and more. To meet cybersecurity challenges nationally and globally, this kind of investment is needed – more is needed.”

The award was secured through a rigorous peer review and proposal process led by Principal Investigator Lance Fiondella and Co-Principal Investigators Iren Valova, Liudong Xing, Jiawei Yuan, and Gokhan Kul.